After five long years, I’ve come to the point where I’ve had to make a hard choice yet again: what to do with my future. Granted, the future is something that I worry about most days (being a mostly-humanities student with chronic anxiety), but now is the time to worry more than ever. I’ve had to make grad school decisions.
Granted, with the job market what it has been, I wasn’t always sure that grad school was even the best choice. It’s a lot of money to apply, with competition for most schools being rather fierce. The commitment is pretty long term (I’ll be in my thirties by the time I can call myself “Doctor“), and just the task of doing a PhD is daunting enough. I’ve spent a long time thinking about getting “a real job”, but in the end I realized that I simply love learning, I love teaching, and I love the potential to create new knowledge in the world. And I would be happier in the end to have completed a PhD and be entirely unemployable, than to have missed out on an opportunity to do what I love.
So, I applied to grad schools with the advice of some helpful faculty, and awaited responses. Rejections came back swiftly, and dejection set in just as fast. But, after a while (a long, long while), some positive news came in.
Last week I accepted my offer to stay at UofT for a PhD.
This week, I flunked a course.
I’ve been extremely busy trying to keep up with planning for the future. I’ve been weighing grad school decisions. I’ve been looking at prospective jobs. I’ve been looking at the grading I’ll have to do at the end of the term. I’ve been travelling to conferences so my CV can be more competitive next year. And in doing all of that, I lost sight of what was going on today. The things I have due and overdue. And I failed to pace myself.
Granted, I flunked that course because I had a major depressive episode and never wrote my final term paper in time for final grades to be submitted. But that isn’t an excuse for not making progress on the assignment before: I’ve had weeks. Still, throughout that time, I was focusing on tomorrow rather than today, when I should have kept in mind that there is no tomorrow until the day is done. Thankfully, my faculty’s recent policy changes for the term make it easy for me to remove the course from my transcript, but it’s a shame to have put in so much good work, to attend every week, and then miss finishing up because I wasn’t focusing on today.
Fortunately, as I head into a new chapter of my life as a PhD student, I’ll be living in a long tomorrow (a long today). But as we all continue to move forward, we should pause to remember that we don’t move forward without first starting from here. So, let’s embrace it.
Here’s to here.
Here’s to now.